This year's World's Best Awards survey was open for voting January 11 through May 10, 2021, as destinations around the world were lifting COVID-19 restrictions. Survey rules have always allowed readers to reflect on their travel experiences over a three-year period. We hope that this year's honorees will inspire your own travels as you get back out into the world.
Despite 2020's challenges, the "isle of enchantment" continued to — no surprise here — enchant T+L readers, who were attracted to its diverse culture, stunning landscapes, and the ease of traveling to the nearby, no-passport-required United States territory. The island's resorts are a big part of the draw, of course, and readers' top five picks in this new category span the spectrum, from a 50-acre spread in Dorado to a compact boutique in the hip city 'hood of Condado.
Every year for our World's Best Awards survey, T+L asks readers to weigh in on travel experiences around the globe — to share their opinions on the top hotels, resorts, cities, islands, cruise ships, spas, airlines, and more. Hotels were rated on their facilities, location, service, food, and overall value. Properties were classified as city or resort based on their locations and amenities.
"From the moment you check in to when you check out, everything is first class," said one reader of San Juan's historic Condado Vanderbilt Hotel (No. 3), which has presided over Ashford Avenue since 1919. Another reader appreciated the property's Tacos & Tequila restaurant, where guests can enjoy a stunning beach view during their casual dinner, writing, "Great margaritas, tacos, guac with the waves splashing."
Courtesy of The St. Regis Bahia Beach Resort The St. Regis Bahia Beach Resort, hotel pool, Rio Grande, Puerto Rico
No. 2 Dorado Beach, a Ritz-Carlton Reserve, elicits similarly high praise: "Everything about this spot is beyond your expectations." The finest resort on the island, bar none," claimed another. T+L readers seemed particularly wowed by the amenities and luxuriously appointed beachfront suites.
Nevertheless, such superlatives weren't enough to put either resort in the top spot. Read on to find out how the St. Regis Bahia Beach Resort managed to trounce the competition.
1. The St. Regis Bahia Beach Resort, Rio Grande
Courtesy of The St. Regis Bahia Beach Resort The St. Regis Bahia Beach Resort, Puerto Rico, hotel lobby, Rio Grande, Puerto Rico
Is this "the best that Puerto Rico has to offer"? Readers think so, with one describing the retreat as "inspiring and gorgeous … it seems as if you're in a wonderland." Set on a former coconut plantation and bordered by a broad two-mile-long beach, it's the only hotel in the Caribbean to be awarded Audubon International's Gold Signature sanctuary certification. Although "the natural setting of the resort is exquisite," the 139-room property also boasts a roster of man-made amenities that readers appreciate, including a Robert Trent Jones Jr.-designed golf course, kids' club, and Iridium spa. It also earned raves for "great service at restaurants, bars, and pools," which may be accessed by chauffeured golf carts. "Oceanside beauty, luxury, first-class service" put this north-coast playground in the top spot.
More information: marriott.com
2. Dorado Beach, a Ritz-Carlton Reserve, Dorado
Courtesy of /Dorado Beach a Ritz-Carlton Reserve Dorado Beach, a Ritz-Carlton Reserve, hotel guest room, beach view, private pool, Dorado, Puerto Rico
More information: ritzcarlton.com
3. Condado Vanderbilt Hotel, San Juan
Courtesy of Condado Vanderbilt Condado Vanderbilt Hotel, grand staircase Condado, Puerto Rico
More information: condadovanderbilt.com
4. Condado Ocean Club, San Juan
Courtesy of Condado Ocean Club Condado Ocean Club, guest room sea view, Condado, Puerto Rico
More information: condadooceanclub.com
5. Fairmont El San Juan Hotel, Isla Verde
Courtesy of Fairmont El San Juan Fairmont El San Juan Hotel, beachside pools, San Juan, Puerto Rico
More information: fairmont.com
See all of our readers' favorite hotels, cities, airlines, cruise lines, and more in the World's Best Awards for 2021.